Monday, June 11
The acid perfusion (Bernstein) test is used to determine if chest pain is caused by acid reflux. For the test, a thin tube is passed through one nostril, down the back of the throat, and into the middle of the esophagus. A dilute, acid solution and a physiologic (normal) salt solution are alternately poured (perfused) through the catheter and into the esophagus. The patient is unaware of which solution is being infused. If the perfusion with acid provokes the patient's usual pain and perfusion of the salt solution produces no pain, it is likely that the patient's pain is caused by acid reflux.
The acid perfusion test, however, is used only rarely. A better test for correlating pain and acid reflux is a 24-hour esophageal ph study during which patients note when they are having pain. It then can be determined from the ph recording if there was an episode of acid reflux at the time of the pain. This is the preferable way of deciding if acid reflux is causing a patient's pain.